Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Top tips to start sewing

I'm not claiming to be a professional sewer but I enjoy spending some quality time with my sewing machine, and in my books there's nothing better than being able to proudly show off your homemade goodies. The hardest aspect for me was actually getting started. I was lucky my mum who also wanted to start sewing, so we were able to help each other out. But If I had been riding solo I probably wouldn't have had the motivation to get started. So here are my top tips for starting a sewing habit (be warned, it's addictive).

1. DON'T go and buy a sewing machine. As tempting as it may be to run out and buy a shiny new sewing machine with lots of wonderful buttons , don't. As committed as you may be to starting a new hobby, sometimes even the best laid plans don't go as they should. Instead I would suggest borrowing one from a family member (a nan or aunt is bound to have a sewing machine) or scouring the charity shops for a cheap alternative. Lots of sewing shops also offer reconditioned machines which are absolutely perfect for beginners. And although an old/borrowed machine may not have 234 different stitches available, it will do the job and gives you a chance to test out your new hobby without spending a fortune. 

2. Look for a local sewing club or night school. Starting sewing without any support can be a little bit scary. Even with my nan's sewing machine at my disposal I was too afraid to start by myself in case I broke the needle/threaded the bobbin incorrectly (I wasn't even too sure what a bobbin was...). I was lucky to find a cheap night class that I could join, and this gave me the confidence to go home and sew by myself. Being around like minded people who also want to learn is a really confidence boost, and it means there's always someone on hand to help if you can't quite work out why your machine is sewing backwards. 

3. Make what you want to make. This sounds very silly but decide what you want to make and stick to your guns. Don't worry about starting small, but start with something you are interested in. If you're not motivated to make it, chances are you won't finish your project. 

4. Look in your wardrobe. If you fancy making clothes then look in your wardrobe before you start. As much as you enjoy lusting after 1960's style dresses, if your wardrobe is full of collared tops and jeans then it's pointless making one. Why? Because however much you like it, chances are you'll never wear it. Think about what shapes suit you, patterns you wear most and the garments that you're most likely to wear. This is a great starting point for making a piece that you'll really love. 

5. Choose your pattern wisely. There are thousands of modern patterns on the market, and there's also a high probability of finding some amazing vintage patterns in charity shops. However be cautious, If patterns are older they may be harder to follow with extremely complicated language! Brands I would recommend are Cynthia Rowley, New Look and McCalls. Ebay is a great place to start for patterns, just type in these brands and see what takes your fancy. Starting sewing can be intimidating due to all the complicated lingo, but these patterns offer the most straightforward instructions out there. 

6. Use your local resources. I laaaav material and I'm sure I'm not the only one guilty of wandering around John Lewis' material department wanting to buy everything my eyes land on. However tempting it is to buy an expensive Cath Kidston print, restrain yourself. Chances are there will be a sewing shop somewhere near you which will offer the same materials that can be found in a large department store for a fraction of the price. So pop into any teeny weeny material shops you spy, you'll probably pick up a bargain. 

7. Don't give up! It sounds silly but persistence is the key. If you're following a pattern and come across a word that looks foreign, don't let it put you off! There are plenty of you tubers that cover sewing techniques, many that offer advice and tips to make your sewing experience much easier. Practice makes perfect, and the more you sew the easier it will become. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

April Favourites

This months list is short but sweet. I've been trying to cut down on spending this month (I've not done particularly well...) which makes this list extra special as these are the bits that slipped through the net. 

First up is my top pick of the month and a product I've already raved about, La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo [+]. You can read the full review here but in a nutshell this is a serum that reduces the appearance of blemishes and scars, evens the skin tone and makes the skin look much brighter. I find my skin is much clearer when I use this regularly, and it feels much smoother. Worth the investment!

Next up a basic, but an essential for every girl. Garnier fresh eye make up remover is my go-to product at the moment. I'm trying to avoid make up wipes as I find they dry my skin out and they don't quite do the job of removing every trace of my mascara. This is a simple, gentle make up remover that wipes away every trace of mascara without needing to scrub your eyes. Most importantly this product isn't oily and is suitable for those with sensitive eyes. I also like that this is in a purple bottle, although I know this doesn't improve it's effectiveness and just makes it look prettier on my dressing table. 

My next product is a simple, no fuss body wash. As silly as it may sound it can be difficult to find a body wash that isn't overpoweringly scented, but still provides a creamy lather. Dove bodywash revive  ticks these boxes. It is lightly perfumed with pomegranate and has a lovely thick texture. You only need a smidgen for it to lather up, so a little goes a long way! This product claims to refine and soften skin within 7 days, and although I've not noticed any miraculous difference I could certainly miss a day moisturising and my skin wouldn't dry out. 

This month I treated myself to some new nail varnish and my favourite of the bunch was from Essie's Spring collection. I deliberated long and hard over the beautiful array of colours and finally settled on Truth or Flare. This is a beautiful blue hue with hints of green when applied to the nails. The first thought when i applied this was how grown up it made my hands look! For anyone who wants to move away from sickly sweet pastel hues (as much as we love them, it's nice to have a change) this whole collection is ideal. 

Last is an old classic which I have currently revived. As much as I love lipstick, sometimes only a gloss will do, and for those times I find this is ideal. Dior ultra gloss plumping volume is a high quality gloss that not only provides great shine but also aims to add volume to the appearance of the lips. The substance has ingredients in which make the lips seem fuller and plumper, which combined with the gloss provides a great finish. The gloss comes in a variety of colours and there are nude tones as well as bright pops of colour which means everyone can find something to suit their style.

Essie Truth or Flare - £7.99

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Top 5 drugstore must haves

As a young worker bee I am by no means rich, and although I am lucky enough to have a disposable income due to lack of mortgage and children (My little Mini One is my only expense!) I never seem to have enough to spend on make up and skincare. Realistically us girls can't afford to splurge all the time, and unless you're lucky enough to receive samples or freebies, this can make it very difficult to keep up with the beauty world. Recently the drugstore brands have really upped their game and are constantly releasing uh-mazing products that really give the high end brands a run for their money. Alas, can we afford to buy everything? Unfortunately not. So I've put together my top 5 drugstore products that are worth splashing the cash on. Want to update your make up bag for a small cost? Look no further...

1. Bourjois Poudre De Riz De Java (£9.99) - I'm starting old school. And when I say old school, I really mean it. This is a reinvented version of Bourjois' 'cult classic' from 1879 (really taking it back!) A very subtle illuminating powder this can be used to highlight a particular area or all over for a glint of a glow. The packaging is beautiful, the smell is lovely and the finish is really nice. Perfect for those Spring evenings when you want a very natural finish. 

2. The Body Shop Sheer Volume Mascara (£10) - Now. I love mascara nearly as much as I love blusher. I don't wear any eye make up apart from mascara, so it's essential for me to get it right or I end up looking like I haven't slept for a week. I normally go for high end Mascaras but I was really impressed with the effectiveness of this Body Shop find. The brush is a great twirly shape so it doesn't leave clumps and it separates the lashes as the mascara glides on. It lasts all day, and doesn't leave horrible flakes under your eyes as the day goes on. This mascara can also be layered which makes it very versatile, allowing you to choose how dramatic you'd like your eyes to be. Fab. 

3. No. 7 Stay Perfect foundation (£14.50) - I'm a bit of a secret No.7 fan (something I have definitely inherited from my Nan) and I've got a few of their products knocking around in my make up bag. One of my favourite things about this brand is their consultants are always so friendly and helpful. If you go into store they'll use their special colour machine to find the best match for you. Which means no ghost complexion or dodgy foundation lines - yay! The foundation itself is great quality, offers good coverage and blends nicely into the skin. Although it doesn't have the best lasting power, it does well as a everyday foundation for a natural make up look. It's never cakey, and it covers blemishes effectively. A great summer foundation as it's very light and lets the skin breathe. 

4. Real Techniques miracle complexion sponge (£5.99) - I enjoy a make up brush as much as the next person but I couldn't resist trying this sponge out and I'm really impressed. Unlike a normal sponge this is much easier to blend with, and offers three different sides. A rounded edge to apply foundation to large areas of the face, a flat edge for the contours of the face, and a curved edge to blend and buff small imperfections. This means instead of using three brushes you only need one sponge, perfect for lazy make up appliers like myself! The sponge offers a very smooth and flawless finish and is one of the only things that blends my concealer successfully to hide my spots!

5. Rimmel Apocalips (£6.49) - If you don't own an Apocalips yet then I urge you with every ounce of my being to go and treat yourself. This product is the perfect mix of lipstick and lipgloss. It offers shine without skimping on colour, and the finish is fantastic. If you like a pigmented lipstick this is definitely for you! As someone who suffers with dry lips I am often deterred from using lipstick, but this product is so hydrating and creamy it can be applied without the need to scrub lips first. It gives good coverage, lasts for a long time and the colour selection is amazing. My personal favourite is Nova, a deep pink which adds a great pop of colour to a dusky pink foundation. But I love them so much I may just invest in the whole collection...

So, that's my round up of fantastic drugstore products done. Perk up your make up bag without spending a fortune!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo [+] review

Every now and again a product crops up that I want to try but I'm not really sure what it does. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo [+] was one of those products. I read a few fuzzy reviews about it, but it wasn't until a fellow beauty crazed friend Amy (see her lovely blog here) recommended it to me I decided to take the plunge and purchase. 

So what is it? The product itself is a little like a mosituriser, it can be applied twice a day and melts into the skin just as a moisturiser would. Its texture is more likened to a serum as it is quite thick and not at all greasy. However unlike a run of the mill moisturiser this product is designed to help the condition and the appearance of your skin. 

Its first promise is to help correct the appearance of unsightly marks on the skin. Under this umbrella comes blemishes, permanent marks (such as acne scars) and dark patches. When i say promise I really mean it, as the company offers your money back if you're not satisfied with the results. Personally I think the serum definitely delivers in this aspect. After using for only a few days I found my spots were less angry, my skin had a more even tone and any scarring from long gone spots seemed to be reduced. I also found it helped any redness in my skin. I've now been using for nearly a month and my skin has definitely benefited from regular use. 

Secondly this product claims to deliver a more even skintone, refining the appearance of the skin whilst also controlling any shine. I was confused at the use of the words 
correcting and refining,  as they seemed one and the same, but after using for over a month I can see more of what they mean. My skin looks (and feels) healthier, more 'glowy' and definitely less bumpy. So alongside helping obvious imperfections, it has helped to refine the look of the skin overall. In terms of helping shine, I can definitely say my t-zone looks less greasy at the end of the day and my make up is less prone to falling off.

So, a strange product. Not a mosituriser, but not a serum to target problem areas. It won't replace anything in your skincare routine, so is it just another product to plonk on your face? Personally I really like it, It's adds about 25 seconds to my skincare routine and has quick yet noticeable results. Within a few days I noticed my skin looked in much better condition, and the longer I use for the healthier my skin feels. If you're looking for something to help spot prone skin I would highly recommend purchasing this. You can thank me later...

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo [+] - £15.50

March Favourites

This month I have compiled a list of absolute gems! I've missed my last two monthly favourites due to a very hectic and busy period of time, but that just means this months round up is extra fantastic!

First of all I have a few Soap & Glory products. I am a big fan of Soap & Glory, and I'm especially partial to their scrubs (see review here) but this is the first time I've added so many Glory additions to my daily routine. The first two I cannot take credit for as they were gifts, but they've turned out to be staples in my getting ready ritual. First is Bright here bright now instant-radiance energy boost balm. This is an amazing balm that aims to add brightness and glow to dull, tired skin. It's applied as a moisturiser before foundation (or can be mixed with foundation, although I've never tried this) and definitely gives a beautiful glow to skin. The consistency is quite thick but melts into the skin effortlessly, resulting in an illuminated complexion. I've found this is especially good for hangover skin (!) that really needs an extra boost to look alive. I've been combining this with You won't believe your eyes, a mositurising serum designed to add some sparkle to peepers that have lost their zing. I find this is very cooling on my eyes as it is applied by three small rollers. The consistency of the serum is very thin, but it doesn't feel greasy or watery. It really helps to combat discolouration under the eye, as well as helping make up glide on seamlessly. 

You won't believe your eyes brightening moisture serum

My third Soap & Glory product (I sound obsessed!) is No clogs allowed deep pore detox mask. This is a self-heating mask that heats up once water is applied to the skin. It is designed to dig deep and clean out all those pesky pores. I originally purchased this as a face mask to use when I'm having a super detox day, but it's been so effective I have been using it as part of my Sunday night ritual. This face mask leaves my skin feelings really soft for a few days after I've used it, and has definitely helped to combat a few horrible clogged pores on my chin. Just as a little warning the heating sensation is slightly odd when you first apply the mask, takes a little getting used to!

My next product is from La Roche-Posay, a brand I've never used before but had heard lots of amazing things about. I picked up La Roche-Posay Effaclar purifying foaming gel as it was on offer and I was after a foaming gel wash to replace my Origins Never a Dull moment beauty (sob), and I have been really impressed with the results. First of all the bottle is absolutely huge and the small cap only lets a small amount out, meaning no wasted product. I've been using this daily for a month and not even a small dent has been made in my bottle so far, definitely worth every penny. Secondly the product itself is extremely luxurious. It has a very subtle but clean smell and the texture is really thick, literally making it a gel, unlike some other gel cleansers. The products foams up really nicely, although I would suggest rubbing it together in wet hands thoroughly before applying to the face, as this definitely has the best results. I tend to use this product with my clarisonic and it works beautifully. One of the biggest differences I've noticed since using this is the lack of shine across my t-zone. Granted my skin isn't particularly oily, but since using this regularly I've found my skin is less prone to shininess and seems to be much smoother in the problem areas (namely my chin). 

Next up is a hairspray (possibly the first time I've ever blogged about a hairspray). Hairspray is a product used daily by most girls, so its general consensus that it can be difficult to find a good hairspray without spending a small fortune. Enter V05 Ultimate Hold Hairspray. This is something I picked up on a whim in Boots when i was re-purchasing Give me texture (see review here) and I am really glad I decided to give it a whirl. From the perspective of a girl with a heavy fringe, I need a spray that's going to hold my fringe in place but not give it a wet or sticky finish. I've found with this spray that the finish is really glossy (not glittery!) and it keeps any stray hairs in place. I've also found it's pretty good for backcombing hair, as it doesn't leave sticky residue behind and it has a glorious smell, which helps when you spray as much as I do! A worthwhile product to try out, at a fraction of the price for other hairsprays of this calibre. 

Last but not least is a slightly odd product. I received this in a Glossy Box before Christmas, and in the hecticness of the festive season it got popped in a cupboard only to emerge when I was having a clear out. Elegant Touch Rapid dry is a spray which is applied to nails once they have been painted and is designed to dry them within sixty seconds. It may seem slightly pointless, but for someone who paints their nails as much as I do, and mostly before I go to bed, it's a little bit of a life saver. This spray does a really good job of drying nails in ultra quick time, doing exactly what it says on the tin. Wonderful!

So that rounds up my March favourites, what have you been using this month?

Elegant Touch - £3.05